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BATON ROUGE — LSU football coach Ed Orgeron was fired last week, effective at season’s end, because of his record, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said at a press conference Sunday night in a team meeting room within Tiger Stadium. Orgeron was 5-5 last season and 3-3 this season before Saturday.
“It was wins and losses on the field and where this program was going,” Woodward said at a table with Orgeron at his immediate right.
Orgeron led LSU to a 15-0 season and a national championship in 2019 after a 10-3 season in 2018.
“Ultimately, we have very high standards for all of our sports programs at LSU, and we will stand proudly behind our expectations of competing for SEC and national championships year in and year out,” Woodward said. “Our last two seasons have simply not met those standards.”
LSU just improved to 4-3 Saturday night with a 49-42 win over No. 20 Florida in Tiger Stadium and still has five games to play, beginning Saturday at Ole Miss in a 2:30 p.m. CBS game. But the decision was made last week after the 42-21 loss at Kentucky, a game in which LSU trailed 35-7 in the third quarter. Orgeron has agreed to coach the team through the end of the regular season and possibly a bowl game.
“When he (Woodward) came and talked to me after the Kentucky game, I knew it was time,” Orgeron said. “I understand the expectations at LSU. I knew after the Kentucky game we were heading down the wrong road. It wasn’t positive for LSU. There was going to be a change made. I just felt that.”
“Based on our on-field results and our evaluation of the potential for future immediate success, it is time for a new direction,” Woodward said. “The search for a LSU football’s next championship coach begins now.”
Orgeron brought the Kentucky game up again when asked whether the Florida win may have meant an improved road for the rest of this season.
“I just felt after the Kentucky game it just wasn’t LSU’s style of football,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t pretty. I was embarrassed.”
On Sunday, LSU released a detailed buyout payment plan for Orgeron, whose buyout calls for him to receive just under $17 million as of a Dec. 1 termination because he was fired without cause.
Orgeron is expected to receive $16,949,000 in 18 installments through December of 2025, starting with a $5.68 million payment this December. Payments will range from $426,000 to $1 million over four years, according to LSU.
Sources close to LSU still maintain that efforts will be made to decrease that buyout, but Woodward and Orgeron seemed to be at the end of a harmonious breakup Sunday.
“His passion and pride for our football team and for our state are unrivaled and undeniable,” Woodward said. “And, even when faced with this difficult news, he still wants what is best for the Tigers, above all else.”
Woodward said Orgeron remaining through the season will give LSU the best chance for success on the field and in recruiting.
“I know Coach O will continue to give everything he has, as that is what he has always given our university and our state,” he said. “For that dedication, for the greatest team in college football history in 2019, and for five years of relentless effort on behalf of the LSU Tigers, we are forever grateful to Coach O.”
Woodward opened the press conference by saying, “I want you to know Ed Orgeron is a friend. But it’s time.”
Orgeron said Woodward has been on the up-and-up with him throughout this season, which started with the No. 16 Tigers losing 38-27 at unranked UCLA.
“I have no regrets,” Orgeron said. “I was not going to have a bad day as LSU’s coach. We did not meet expectations. I totally get it.”
Orgeron was asked whether he plans to coach somewhere next season.
“No, I’m going to take some time off,” he said. “I’ll have enough money to buy a hamburger every once in a while — maybe a double cheeseburger. I want to take a little time off to see what direction I want to be in. I’m going to take a little time off and spend some time with my kids.”